Eddie Gallagher, the former Navy SEAL team leader accused of stabbing a detained Islamic State group fighter to death in Iraq, was found not guilty of murder on Tuesday.
Gallagher was deployed to Mosul and served as a Navy Special Operations chief in 2017 when he allegedly stabbed an Islamic State detainee to death before posing with his dead body.
While a jury did not find Gallagher guilty of murder or attempted murder, he was convicted on one count of “posing for a photo with a human casualty,” according to CNN.
The maximum sentence on that count is four months behind bars, but it’s possible Gallagher will simply be released on time served.
BREAKING: Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher found not guilty of murder and attempted murder. Found guilty of posing with body
— Paul Szoldra (@PaulSzoldra) July 2, 2019
BREAKING: SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher NOT GUILTY on all major counts.
Convicted for posing with the body. Four months, sentenced to time served.
It’s over. Gallagher is an American hero.
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) July 2, 2019
The jury took roughly a day to deliberate after both the government and defense attorneys made their closing arguments on Monday, Task and Purpose reported.
“Throughout the trial, prosecutors painted Gallagher as a man, proud of his kill, who sent a ‘trophy photo’ of the murdered detainee to friends, while the defense argued that the government and NCIS agents had a ‘target fixation’ on Gallagher that led them to not ask important questions or consider alternatives,” according to Task and Purpose.
The turning point in the trial may have come when Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, who serves as a Navy medic, testified that Gallagher did not kill the Islamic State prisoner.
Scott said Gallagher did stab the prisoner, but claimed the detainee would have survived the stabbing had Scott himself not suffocated him to death, ABC News reported.
“He described it as an act of mercy because he was concerned the boy — a prisoner of the Iraqi forces — would be tortured by the Iraqis,” CNN explained.
“I knew he was going to die anyway,” Scott testified, according to the Washington Examiner.
“I wanted to save him from waking up to what had happened next,” he added.
Scott admitted he waited until he was granted immunity to divulge this information.
The prosecution wasn’t buying it.
But it appears members of the jury may have believed Scott’s testimony implanted enough reasonable doubt in their minds that they could not convict Gallagher.
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